• Tue. Jun 18th, 2024

Located roughly five minutes away from the campus of Sinclair Community College is “Bonnett’s Bookstore.” Upon opening the door you are immediately confronted with worn books of varying topics as well as an assortment of toys hanging over your head. 

Bonnett’s Bookstore is one of the oldest stores in the Oregon District, having been located at 502 E. 5th St. since 1939. During this era, the store was run by Harold and Ruth Bonnett, bearing the name, “Bonnett’s Back-Issue Magazines.” Prior to having the store established, Bonnett was a pulp fiction writer before seeing the opportunity in trading magazines.

“It came out of the Depression Era, and you just didn’t throw anything away,” Harold and Ruth’s grandson, Kevin (the current owner), explained. “There were also vastly fewer entertainment options. You know you had the radio and you had the paper. And books, and comics, or magazines, you can read them and swap them, and that’s what they did. They opened a place to trade magazines.”

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The setup was quite different during this time. Not only were the books absent, but the Bonnett’s shared their workspace with one another.
“There was another guy who did multiple things, including sell magazines.

When he went out of business, we got all of his books.” Kevin said, “And it’s an interesting thing. Because there were multiple shops trading magazines, and all these shops were a little bit territorial, so we would stamp the covers with our store name.”

Something noteworthy about Bonnett’s Bookstore is how it was opened the same year Batman made his first appearance in “Detective Comics #27.” Additionally, Superman made his public debut a year prior to the shop’s opening in 1938. 

This not only implies that Bonnett’s Bookstore is possibly one of the oldest suppliers of comic books in the city of Dayton but with comics holding as much relevance then as much as they do now, Bonnett ultimately distributed old comics that are now considered to be valuables. 

Bonnett’s Bookstore offers a treasure trove for fans of early 20th-century pulp fans. Several comic books from around the world have the Bonnett’s stamp on them. (Photo by Ayzha Middlebrooks)

In the present, Kevin has discovered certain comic books on the internet that have the family’s stamp on them, showing that the circulation of their former products can occur in the most unlikely places around the world. 

The bookstore was then inherited by Harold and Ruth’s son, the late Walter Bonnett, who was once a student at Sinclair Community College, studying acting. Walter then passed ownership onto his sons, Kevin and Greg, in 2001. Much like those before him, Kevin continues the tradition of selling used books, comics, magazines and even has a selection of DVDs that customers can browse.

He frequently takes to platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (both found under the handle @bonnettsbooks) revealing the latest titles he has available. When asked what could make Sinclair students become interested in stopping by, Kevin replied: 

“With our current selection of books, which covers…all topics – all topics, I got stuff here other people can’t or won’t carry, I’m often surprised when I see people walk by the door, look in, and pass us by. There is actually something for everybody in here!”For those interested in visiting Bonnett’s Bookstore and seeing if they truly have everything, it is open from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m Monday through Saturday.

Ayzha Middlebrooks
Associate Editor

A peek at the images inside some of the pulp fiction and magazines of Bonnett’s Books. (Source: YouTube/Bonnett’s Book Store)